Friday, September 10, 2010

Concluding the Blog (?)

Asalaam Alaaykum,

I wish to thank all the members and followers of this blog for participating during this season of Ramadan. I enjoyed our blog and found it beneficial and I hope you did, too!

Feel free to continue to post if there is anything you wish to include but haven't posted yet.

Maybe we can start up this blog again next year if there is interest, and/or maybe we could have a blog for the Muharram season as well. What do you think?

Eid Mubarak to all of you. I pray the month of Ramadan was spiritually uplifting and that it concluded with forgiveness and lots of blessings.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Eid Mubarak

"'Eid is for those whose fasts have been accepted and whose salaat are worthy of reckoning and every day when one does not commit a sin it is 'eid" (Nahjul Balaghah, maxim 427)


To all believers in North America,

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon all of you.

The Crescent Moon Committee of the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America announces, based upon several reports which were received from across North America, that tomorrow Friday 09/10/2010 is considered the 1st of Shawwal of the year 1431 for the United States of America (except Alaska) and some parts of Canada. Therefore Eid al-Fitr will be tomorrow for the above mentioned areas.

We ask The Almighty God to bless your work and shower you with His Blessings in this month, and to hasten the appearance of the Holy Imam of our time.

The Crescent Committee

o Sayyid Mohammed Rizvi, Toronto
o Sheikh Fadhil al-Sahlani, New York
o Sayyid Mahboob Mahdi Abdidi Najafi, Chicago
o Sayyid Rafiq Naqawi, Washington D.C.
o Sayyid Hassan al-Qizwini, Detroit

Note: The committee was established in the 9th annual conference of the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America which was held on November 19th, in Atlanta, GA.y and days to follow)" (Nahjul-Balaghah)

(Sami Yusuf nasheed)

Whenever you observe it, Eid Mubarak to you - may Allah swt accept all your fasts and deeds in the month of Ramadan and grant you complete forgiveness at its close, and may your duas be accepted. I saw the crescent, it was very tiny and so exciting to actually see it!

Eid Salat




It is Mustahab that one should have a breakfast after sunrise, pay Zakatul Fitr and then offer Eid prayers.

It is Mustahab to walk barefooted to attend Eid prayers, with all the dignity, and to do Ghusl before namaz, and to place a white turban on one's head.

* It is also Mustahab that in Eid prayers Sajdah be performed on earth, and hands be raised while saying takbirs and if you are offering salat individually recites prayers loudly. And if you are Riciting Namaz e Eid with Jamat then the follower should recite everything in the Eid prayers, except Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah.
* Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Azha prayers are obligatory during the time of Imam (A.S.), and it is necessary to offer them in congregation. However during the present times when the Holy Imam is in Occultation, these prayers are Mustahab, and may be offered individually as well as in congregation.
* The time for Eid prayers is from sunrise till Zuhr
* It is Mustahab that the following takbirs be said on Eid ul Fitr night (ie night preceding the Eid day), after Maghrib and Isha prayers, and on Eid day after Fajr prayers, as well as after Eid ul fitr prayers: "Allahu Akbar, Alllahu Akbar, la ilaha illal lah wallahu akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa lilla hil hamd, Allahu akbar ala ma hadana""
1) Eid prayers has two Rak'ats.
2) In the first Rak'at, a person should recite Surah al Hamd and a Surah
3) and then they say five takbirs, and after every takbir he should recite qunut.
4) After the fifth qunut, he should say another takbir and then perform Ruku and two Sajdah.
5) He should then stand up and recite Surah al Hamd and a Surah like first Rakat.
6) say four takbirs in the second Rak'at, and recite qunut after everyone of these takbirs.
7) Thereafter, he should say the fifth takbir and then perform Ruku and two Sajdah.
8) After the second Sajdah he should recite tashahhud, and then complete the prayers with Salam.
----------------
No particular Surah has been specified for Eid prayers But, it is better that after reciting Surah al Hamd in the first Rak'at, Surah Wash Shams be recited and in the second Rak'at Surah al Ghashiya
Any recital or Dua will suffice in qunut of the Eid Prayers. However, it is better that the following Dua is recited:

Allahumma ahlal kibriya'i wal 'azamah, wa ahlal judi wal jaburat, wa ahlal 'afwi war rahmah, wa ahlat taqwa wal maghfirah. As aluka bihaqqi hazal yawmil lazi ja'altahu lil muslimina 'ida , wali Muhammadin sal lal lahu 'Alaihi wa Alihi, zukhran wa sharafan wa karamatan wa mazida an tusalliya 'ala Muhammad wa Ali Muhammad wa an tudkhilani fi kulli khayrin adkhalta fihi Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad wa an tukhrijani min kulli su'in akhrajta minhu Muhammadan wa Ala Muhammad salawatuka 'alahi wa 'alahim. Alla humma inni as aluka khayra ma sa alaka bihi ibadukas salihun, wa auzubika mim masta aza minhu ibadukal mukhlasun.

Note:Like in all other prayers, the follower should recite everything in the Eid prayers, except Surah al-Hamd and the other Surah.

From the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya:

n the Name of God, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful

Dear Respected Brothers & Sisters,

Salam Alikum
May the peace and blessings of God be upon you!
May God accept your fasting and deeds...

As for the matter at hand, the situation regarding the crescent for the month of Shawwal is not hidden from you. As you know, the possibility of sighting the crescent in different cities in the North America (see this link http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org/assets/F2010Sep09.pdf)

It is our pleasure to receive your calls, so that you can please give any information concerning the situation of the crescent and its visibility.
Based on this, we will be available - God-willing - at the conference phone number:
(712) 451-6100 enter code 1074957#
throughout the sunset times from:
7pm EST until 7pm PST

We hope that all believers participate in this effort. We ask the Almighty Allah to shower you with His Mercy and bless you in these nights.
You have our sincere affection and appreciation.

Salam Alikum (Peace & blessings)
I.M.A.M.


TOKNOWABOUT THE 1ST DAY OF SHAWWAL -EID-UL-FITR DAY

Dear Respected Believers

Salam Alikum - Peace & blessings upon you

As the 1st of Shawwal, i.e., Eid-ul-Fitr, draws near, it is important for all Muslims to understand the basics of how this month is determined and update about expectation of sighting the new crescent of the first of Shawwal.

Months in the Islamic calendar follow a lunar system, meaning that the months are determined through observation of different phases of the moon. As the moon revolves around the earth, it reflects different amounts of sunlight, so that we see only parts or the entire moon. At the end of every month, the moon fades away and a new moon is born. At that phase, the moon cannot be seen in the night sky. With passing time, the moon changes its position so that it reflects more and more of the sun's light. When the new crescent moon is seen in this phase, a new month begins.

On the 29th of the month, Muslims around the globe observe the night sky and try to sight the new crescent moon and determine the beginning of the month. If the new crescent moon is sighted on that night, the next day will mark the beginning of the month. If the moon is not seen on the 29th, the 30th day is considered the last day of the month. The following day will then be the first day of the next month.

Our Grand Jurists have different opinions on some of the particulars of moon sighting, therefore we will briefly address the following topics:

* How the moon is sighted?
* Whose testimony do we rely on?
* The validity of astronomical data.
* Sharing the curve of sighting

HOW THE MOON IS SIGHTED?
The first issue is in regards to how the new crescent moon is sighted. Jurists, including His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani, hold that the possibility of observing the new crescent moon by the naked eye needs to exist, without the use of any optical aid.

WHOSE TESTIMONY DO WE RELY ON?
Because most individuals cannot observe the new crescent moon themselves, Islam gives individuals other methods for confirming the beginning of the lunar month. The individual can rely on the testimony of two just men who sighted the new crescent moon in their area. A general consensus among the people as to the beginning of the new lunar month can also be used to verify a sighting, if it is in line with the opinions of the jurist one emulates.

THE VALIDITY OF ASTRONOMICAL DATA
Our jurists have also addressed the question of the validity of astronomical data in determining the new lunar month. Based on the experts who provide astronomical data, they emphasize that their data does not predict the visibility of the moon with certainty (Source: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/astronomical-information-center/cres-moon-islamic); they can only calculate with high precision the time of birth of the new moon. Therefore, it cannot be relied on with certainty in determining the sighting of the new crescent moon. In addition, we can rely on astronomical data to verify where the new crescent moon cannot be seen.

SHARING CURVE OF SIGHTING
A sighting of the new crescent moon in a city can be used to determine the beginning of the new month in that city and its vicinity. According to the view of His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Sayid Ali Al-Sistani, if the new crescent moon was sighted in one area, the sighting can also be used to determine the beginning of the month in areas sharing the same curve of sighting. In such areas, the altitude and size of the new crescent moon is close to one another. (To find out altitude and size of the new crescent moon at any location, please refer to the following site: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services/alt-az-us).

IN CONCLUSION
Based on the astronomical data http://www.crescentmoonwatch.org/nextnewmoon.htm North America most likely will be divided to several areas. We ask the believers to try the sight the new crescent tonight Thursday 09/09/2010 at sunset. In case the New Crescent is sighted please contact and join the Crescent Committee on the toll free conference call number:

* (712) 451-6100 (pass code 1074957#)
* From 7:00 PM (EST) till 7:30 PM (PST) to submit your reports

The Crescent Committee of the Council of Shia Muslims Scholars in North America will be announcing the details of the beginning of the Month of Shawwal, by the end of the night insha Allah.

We ask the Almighty God to bless you and accept your fasting and prayer during this Holy Month, and to shower you with His Mercy and advance you further in your work.

Salam Alikum
I.M.A.M.

Monday, September 6, 2010

From Tafseer Al-Mizan , Chapter 112 - Al-Ikhlas (The Unity), Verses 1-4

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent


Chapter 112 - Al-Ikhlas (The Unity), Verses 1-4

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِِ - قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ {1} اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ {2} لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ {3} وَلَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ {4}
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. 
- {1} Say: He, Allah, is Unique! {2} Allah is He on Whom all depend. {3} He begets not, nor is He begotten. {4} And (there is) none is like Him.

General Comment

This chapter describes the pure Oneness (Tawheed) of Allah (swt), freeing Him from all kinds of need without associating anything with Him and that which is not in His essence, attributes or actions. This is pure Tawheed according to the Qur'an and it is one of the specialties of the Qur'an and the edifice of all the Islamic knowledge.

There are numerous traditions discussing about the virtues of this surah including those received by Shias and Sunnis that say that this surah is equivalent to one third of the Qur'an and the same will be forthcoming in our narrative discourse.

This surah is either a Meccan Sura or revealed in Medina, but is likely that it descended in Mecca according to the reasons of its revelation.

Commentary

Qur'an: Say: He, Allah, is Unique:

The word Ahad (unique) is an attribute which is derived from the word Wahid (one) but the word Ahad is used about  something which cannot be counted or numbered and something that does not accept numerousness (from all sides) - not even evidently or imagined. Therefore, the word Ahad does not mean one, unlike the word Wahid, so that we may start counting two, three and so on. In the (usage of the) word Ahad, whatever is followed by a second is that very same thing. For example if someone says: "No one (from the people) came to me" (maa jaani minal qaumi ahad), it negates the coming of one, two or more but if someone says "one (from the people) did not come to me" (maa jaani wahidu minhum) it negates the coming of only one but not two, three or more.1

In this backdrop, the word Ahad (in the verse under discussion) is used in a positive sentence and it has a connotation that in His essence, Allah is such as no one like unto Him can even be imagined - be it one or more. Therefore, regardless of its condition in actuality, it is impossible even to imagine it properly.

Qur'an: Allah is He on Whom all depend:

The literal meaning of "samad" is to intend or to depend. The word has been explained in many different ways. More so, it has been explained as the One on Whom all depend. The word samad in this verse has been used without any restriction – therefore the meaning "One on Whom all depend" is more acceptable.

For Allah is the one who brought everything into existence – therefore everything with the exception of Him (Who is self-Existing) depend on Him. Just like He said:

Surely His is the creation and the command; blessed is Allah, the Lord of the worlds. (7:54)

And that to your Lord is the goal (53:42)

By mentioning  the word "Allah" again in the verse under discussion saying: "Allah is He on Whom all depend" and without saying: "He is the One on Whom all depend" or "Allah is Unique and One on Whom all depend" shows that each of these two verses is sufficient in explaining (in a limited way) the attributes of Allah.

These two verses praise Allah (swt) in His attributes of essence and action. Therefore, the clause "Allah is Unique" is the praise of His Essence and the clause "Allah is One Whom all depend" is the praise of action - which praises Allah for He is the end of everything.

It has also been said that the word samad means One who does not eat, drink, sleep, beget or is He begotten. Therefore the verse that follows (He does not beget nor was He begotten) is the explanation of the word samad.

Qur'an: He begets not, nor is He begotten. And (there is) none is like Him:

These two verses refute that Allah begets something through another thing by way of separation2 - just like what the Christians claim about 'Isa (as) that he is the son of God or the claim by the polytheists concerning some of their idols that they were the sons of God.

In the same manner, these two verses refute that He was begotten or He came into existence from another thing just like what the polytheists claim. In their (the polytheists) belief of god, there is god the father, god the mother and god the son.

Also, these two verses refute that God has a partner in His actions just like the claim among people like Firawn and Nimrud - who called themselves gods.

To give birth is one way of reproducing (or populating) however one defines it - for the one who is born has to cling to (depend on), and becomes part of, the one who gave birth and definitely each of the parts will be in need of each other. But Allah (swt) is not in need of anything and that all things are in need of Him. Therefore, Allah does not beget.

His saying: "He was not begotten": a thing which is begotten must be dependable on the one who begets and Allah is not dependable on or in need of anyone, therefore He was not begotten.

His saying: "there is no one like unto Him": it is indeed not possible that He is self-Sufficient (and on Whom all depend) if there is someone else like Him or a model like Him. For, He alone is the One on Whom all depend, thus He has no example or model. Therefore it has become clear that these two verses is the explanation of the word "samad" and they also confirm or establish Allah's Oneness in His Essence, Attributes, Actions and in addition, those things that relate to His Majesty and Glory. For this reason, this whole chapter explains the attributes of Allah and His Oneness.3

It is also said that the word "kufwan" means wife because a wife is an example of a husband. In this case, the verse (under discussion) takes on the meaning of the following verse:

And that He - exalted be the majesty of our Lord - has not taken a consort, nor a son. (72:3)

Traditions

In al-Kafi, from Muhammad bin Muslim, from Abu Abdillah (as) who said: "Indeed, some Jews asked the Prophet (s): 'Praise your Lord for us'. The Prophet waited for three days without replying them, and then this surah was revealed."

The author says: In Ihtiyaj, it has been reported from al-Askary (as) that the one to ask the Prophet (s) was Abdullah bin Suriyya, a Jew. In some Sunni traditions, it is mentioned that the one who asked the prophet (s) was Abdullah bin Salam, who asked him while in Mecca and thereafter he became a Muslim but he concealed his faith. In some Sunni traditions it says that some Jews had asked the Prophet while some others say that the polytheists of Mecca were the ones who asked the Prophet (s).

In Ma'an from the Isnad from Asbagh bin Nabata from 'Ali (as) who said: "the praises (attributes) of Allah is 'Qulhuwallah'.

And in Ilal from the isnad, from as-Sadiq (as) who said in a tradition that in Meraj (ascention) Allah (swt) told the Prophet to recite "Qulhuwallah" for it is His praise. This tradition with the same meaning has been narrated by al-Kadhim (as) and also in many traditions of the Sunnis from among the companions like Ibn Abbas, Abu Dhard, Jabir bin Masud, Abu Sais al-Khudr, Muadh bin Anas, Abu Ayyub, Abu Amama and others. There are many traditions received from the Shias regarding the same.

The author says: They have all explained that this chapter is equivalent to one third of the Qur'an in different ways one of them being that the Qur'an has the exposition of three main pillars or principles: Tawhid, Prophethood and the Hereafter and this whole chapter (of Ikhlas) covers one of the pillars i.e. Tawhid.

In at-Tawhid it is reported that 'Ali (as) said: "One day I saw Khidr (as) in my dream before the battle of Badr and I said to him: 'teach me something that will protect me from the enemies' and he (Khidr) said: 'say, yaa huwa man la huwa illa huu' (O You besides Whom there is no one except You). So when I woke up, I narrated this to the Messenger (s) who told me: 'O 'Ali you have been taught a glorious name'. That is why this was at the tip of my tongue on the day of the battle of Badr."

The author says: Indeed, Amirul Mu'mineen ('Ali ibn Abi Talib) recited Qulhuwallah until the end (of the chapter) and then recited "yaa huwa man la huwa illa huu! Ighfirliy wansurni alal qawmil kafireen".  (O You besides Whom there is no one except You. Protect me and help me from the disbelieving people)

In al-Kafi, from the Isnad of Daud bin al-Qassim Jafari it is reported that he asked Abu Jaffar (as): "What is the meaning of samad?" He (Abu Jaffar) said: "It means the One on Whom all depend from little to plenty."

In the meaning of the word samad, there are other explanations received from the Imams (as):

al-Baqir (as) said: "Samad means one who is obeyed and no one else".

al-Hussein (as) said: "Samad means one who has no example or model, one who does not sleep, one who is available and will always be available".

as-Sajjad (as) said: "Samad is He Who if He wants something, He says: 'Be' and Samad is (also) He who has produced things and created unique species in pairs - male and female.

The author says: The actual meaning of Samad, as narrated by Abu Jaffar II (as), is that which is in keeping with the intended theme (of the surah). So various meanings have been transmitted by the Imams (as) in their tafseer and it compels us to say that Samad means the One (Almighty God) on Whom all depend for all their needs without Him having any dependence (or need).

In at-Tawhid, it has been narrated by Wahab bin Wahab al-Quraysh who narrates from as-Sadiq (as) who narrates from his grandfathers that people of Basra had written to al-Hussein (as) asking him for the meaning of Samad. The Imam (as) replied them as follows: "In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent and the Most Merciful. Do not argue and talk about the Qur'an without any knowledge because I heard the Messenger (saw) say (about the Qur'an) that whoever says about the Qur'an without any knowledge, then he should prepare for himself a seat in the fire of hell. And Allah Himself has said: "Say: He, Allah, is Unique! Allah is He on Whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And (there is) none is like Him."

In the same at-Tawhid from the isnad of Ibn Abu Umair who narrates from al-Kadhim (as) that he said: "Know that Almighty God (swt) is only One! One on Whom all depend, He did not beget to be inherited nor was He begotten to be associated (to have partners)."

In another sermon of 'Ali (as), he said: "He (Allah) was not begotten except that He should not have a partner in His Glory and He does not beget except that He should not be inherited.

The author says: There are many traditions narrating what has been mentioned in the foregoing.

Footnotes

[1] This example also shows how the word Ahad is used in negative and positive sentences respectively. (tr.)

[2] When part of a body separates and forms into another thing. (tr.)

[3] These two verses negate such factors (like begetting and being begotten) that impose some limits and isolation on Allah. (tr.)

Preparing for the End




Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

The blessed month of Ramadan will be over in a few days, and so it is fitting to repost this from last year. On the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Hazrat Ali (A.S.) delivered a sermon in which he said:

“O people! Verily this day of yours is the day when the righteous are awarded and the wretched are losers. It is a day which is similar to the one on which you shall be standing (before your Lord). Therefore, when you come out of your homes to go to places of your prayer, remind yourselves about the day when you (your souls) shall come out of your bodies to go to your Lord. When you stand on places of your prayer, remind yourselves of your standing in the presence of your Lord (on the day of Judgment). And when you return to your homes (after prayer), remind yourselves about your returning to your homes in Paradise. O Servants of Allah! Verily the minimum reward for those men and women who fasted (during Ramadan), is an Angel, who calls out to them on the last day of the month of Ramadan (saying): O SERVANTS OF ALLAH! REJOICE THE GLAD TIDING THAT ALL YOUR PREVIOUS SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN…”

- From the Nahjul-Balaghah.

Eid-ul-Fitr is a unique festival. It has no connection with any historical event nor is it related to the changes of seasons or cycles of agriculture. It is not a festival related in any way to worldly affairs. Its significance is purely spiritual. It is the day when Muslims thank God for having given them the will, the strength and the endurance to observe the fast and obey His commandments during the holy month of Ramadan.

Alhamdulillah! May Allah bless us all, and grant that we use this Eid as a lens to focus the sun of good works, which have shone so brightly during Ramadan, to light the way through this coming year until the next Ramadan. Amin! Amin!

Eid Mubarak!


A few more prayers you may wish to try before this month is over:

From an e-mail I received:

salaams:

another gem of worship i found in one of my dua collections...

Namaz/Amaal for any one day in the Holy Month of Ramadhan:

Recite 12 rakat salah in sets of twos (like 6 fajr).
In each rakah after Surah al-Hamd, recite suratul Ikhlaas 25 times.

After finishing this prayer recite 70 times:
"Subhana lahi wal hamdulillahi wa la ilaha illal lahu wallahu akbar, wa la hawla wala quwwata illa billahil aliyyul azeem.

next, recite 70 times:
"Astaghfirul lahal ladhi la illaha illa rahmanur raheemul hayyul Qayyum, wa atoobu ilaih."

The reward is given as soon as one lifts his or her head from the last sajdah:
1. all your sins are forgiven
2. sawab of going to 700,000 Hajj
3. sawab of going to 700,000 Umrah
4. sawab of 700 nights of tahajjud
5. sawab of having kept 700 fasts
6. keeps away the calamities of this life and of the hereafter
7. one will always say the correct religious things
8. if the person dies the same year, he/she will get the status of a martyr
9. assurance that one will get safely into paradise after death.
INSHA'ALLAH!!!!



This next one can be done anytime but if one achieves forgiveness in the month of Ramadan it may be more readily beneficial for your family right now:

As Salaam Alaikum wa Ramadan Mubarak:

Following, is the method for Salatel e Hadiya Waaledain or salat for one's parents. Many of you converts might be interested in doing this for your parents, many of whom remain non-Muslim.

it consists of two rakahs.

In the first rakah after suratul Fatiha, recite this dua 10 times in qunoot, hands raised:

"Rabbanaghfirlee wa lay waaledaiyya wa lil momineena yauma yaqumul hisab" (Quran: 14:41: "Our Lord! cover us with Thy forgiveness; me, my parents and all believers on the Day of Reckoning will be established.")

Finish the rakah as normal.

In the second rakah, after Suratul Fatiha, recite this dua ten times in qunoot with hands raised:

"Rabbighfirlee wa lay waaledaiyya wa lay mun dekhala baitee momeenan wa lil momineena wal mominaat." (Quran 71:28) "Our Lord! forgive me and my parents and those who enter my house with belief and men who believe and women who believie."

Then finish the salat as normal.

After salah, in prostration, recite the following dua ten times:

"Rabbir ham homa kama rabbayanee sagheera." (Quran 17:24)
"Our Lord! Forgive them both for they have brought me up in my childhood.
"


These are just a few prayers we might want to do before these precious days are gone - who knows if we will have another chance?

And when Eid does come, insha'allah, let us stay united and keep something of what we have tried to gain in this month. What will you keep from the month? Will you keep reading the Qur'an a little every day? Will you keep fasting on a regular basis? Will you be kinder to other people or more patient? It will only stay with you if you make it stay with you!

Here is an article written last year about Eid calculations and unity - let us leave the month in peace.

This year, the crescent for Shawwal was sighted in South America and South Africa on Saturday night. Based on this, Eid in North America was on Sunday for the followers of Ayatollah Khoei and a few other Maraja Taqleed (Religious Authorities), and on Monday for the followers of Ayatollah Sistani and some other jurists.

Naturally, all hell broke loose. "Why can't we have a united Eid?" "Why are these Maraja dividing us?" "They are causing our families to split!" Forums were flooded, angry text messages were sent, and chain emails are still being forwarded. Once again, Marjaiyyat stands accused for having causing yet another crushing blow to the oh-so-fragile Western Shia community. Even the rare well-wishers who do not harbor any particular animosity towards the Maraja cannot help but scratch our heads...
"Sharing the Night" vs. "Sharing the Horizon"

In regards to moonsighting, there is a slight difference of opinion among our Maraja. A few scholars, the most notable among them being the late Ayatollah Abul Qasim al-Khoei, are of the opinion that as long as the moon is sighted in one place, all other locations "sharing the night" (Wahdat al-Ufoq) will also rely on that sighting. For example, if the moon is sighted in the United Kingdom, then it will also apply to places like New York and Detroit, because sunset time in New York and Detroit is before the break of dawn in the UK. Hence, they "share a night". (Ayatollah Khoei: Islamic Laws, ruling #1744)

However, the majority of our Religious Authorities (including Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani and Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei) follow the principle of Ta'adad al-Ufoq ("sharing the horizon"). According to this principle, each location has its own curve of sighting that is distinct and separate from others, unless the two locations "share a horizon", meaning if the moon is sighted in one location, there must be a significant probability it would have also been sighted in the other location had it not been for adverse weather conditions, etc. (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1744; Ayatollah Khamenei: Practical Laws of Islam, Q. 835)

On the Farsi section of his website www.sistani.org, Ayatollah Sistani is asked if Hasa and Qatib (in Saudi Arabia) share a horizon with Tehran. In the Arabic section, the same question is asked about Najaf and Bahrain. In both cases, the answer is affirmative.

Furthermore, as explained by Ayatollah Sistani: "If the new moon is sighted in the East, it also applies to the West, as long as the latitude of the two locations are not greatly further away from one another. If the new moon is sighted in the West, it does not apply to the East, unless it is proven – even by the moon staying on the first [Western] horizon for the length of time that is longer than the difference between the sunset of the two locations. [For example, if the sunset in the Eastern city was half an hour before the Western city where the moon was sighted, and the moon stays on the horizon longer than half an hour – the Eastern city can follow the moon sighted in the Western city.]" (A Code of Practice for Muslims in the West, ruling #115)

Lastly, if a person does not know whether it is the last day of Ramadan or the first of Shawwal, (s)he should observe fast on that day, and if (s)he comes to know during the day that it is the first of Shawwal, (s)he should break the fast. (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1746; Ayatollah Khoei: Islamic Laws, ruling #1746; Ayatollah Khamenei, Newly Asked Questions, section on "Fasting" at www.leader.ir)

Also See: Ask the Experts by Shaikh Saleem Bhimji
Scientific Predictions

So why can't we use scientific methods to determine the new moon and forget about moonsighting all together? Surely with current scientific developments, this would solve the whole problem.

According to most of our scholars, the first day of a month cannot be proven through scientific predictions. However, if an individual derives full satisfaction and certitude from such findings (or through any other source), (s)he is welcome to act upon them. (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1741)

In the past few years, there has been increasing emphasis on the use of scientific calculations for the purposes of determining the new moon by a growing portion of our community. However, what we must keep in mind is that science is not the end-all-be-all answer to all questions. Scientific predictions about moonsighting are based on calculations, and those could easily be incorrect or based on incorrect models or theories. In the past, there have been several instances of differences among scientists and observatories over the possibility of moonsighting, usually because they subscribed to differing models or theories. While we can use scientific data for the purposes of determining probability and such, it cannot therefore be a substitute for actual moonsighting by the human eye.

Interestingly, the US Naval Observatory itself notes on its website, "The date and time of each New Moon can be computed exactly, but the time that the Moon first becomes visible after the New Moon depends on many factors and cannot be predicted with certainty."
"But how can we have two Eids?"

The answer: why not?!

Instead of making mountains out of molehills, let's try to resolve such issues with a little bit of common sense. If Ramadan ended on Saturday for the parents and on Sunday for the children, surely the parents can wait just one day to wear their new clothes or cook up all sorts of ethnic delicacies! If the other members of your family are fasting today, and you are not, just drink a glass of water in the morning – you don't have to eat a four-course meal in front of them! In regards to Eid prayers, most places have services to accommodate both situations, and even if your community doesn't, keep in mind that Eid prayers are not obligatory during the occultation of the Twelfth Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) and can also be offered individually (Ayatollah Sistani: Islamic Laws, ruling #1525).

Furthermore, even if we see the Lebanese community celebrating Eid on one day, the Pakistanis the next days, and the Khojas after them, what exactly is the big deal? In many parts of the Muslim world, people celebrate Eid for a whole week. The more, the merrier! I for one fail to see the problem with being able to dress up, visit friends, and gorge out on delicious food for three days instead of just one!

Instead of panicking and rushing to hurl the vilest accusations at our religious scholars, let us try to be a bit more reasonable. Unity does not mean uniformity. Instead of becoming upset at such minor differences, let us learn to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of variety and diversity.

Also, we must realize that even if we ignore all jurisprudential differences, we still would not be able to avoid the issue of multiple Eids. Indeed, we see that during the caliphate of Imam Ali (peace be upon him), a man once came and told him that he had sighted the crescent for the month of Shawwal, while no one else had. The Imam told him that since he has sighted the moon himself, it was Eid for him the next day, but for the rest of the community, since there were not two reliable testimonies (as required by Shariah), it would be the 30th of Ramadan. So while it was haram for the man to fast the next day, it was in fact wajib upon everyone else! (Wasail ash-Shia, volume 10, chapter on Fasting)

Hence, for those who have proper knowledge and understanding of Islamic jurisprudence, this is really a non-issue. In all honesty, the moonsighting drama has nothing to do with unity or keeping our families intact. The Shia world has had multiple Eids for centuries now, so it has hard to fathom why this has become such a divisive issue. The fact of the matter is that this is a simple jurisprudential technicality which certain nefarious elements have hijacked and used to attack our Maraja Taqleed, and many simple-minded Shias are sadly following suit. If we are really so concerned about maintaining unity, let us keep in mind that the one institution that has safeguarded and protected Shi'ism for the past 1200 years and the only platform that is capable of uniting us is the same Marjaiyyat which we so quickly rush to accuse of causing disunity amongst us!

On a final note, in the 13th century, as Mongol armies were about to overrun Baghdad, the Muslim world was too busy fighting among itself over apparently a far more pertinent matter: whether it is permissible to consume owl meat or not! Today, as we face enemies and calamities from all sides, let us learn from our own history, let us cease from wasting so much time and energy complaining about such trivial matters, let us unite under the banner of the Marjaiyyat, and let us focus on the greater problems that threaten to overrun our communities and the Muslim Ummah today.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Salaat Imam-e-Zamaan

Salaamun Alaykum all: see below, my apologies if the Arabic has not
transferred over correctly! You will find the complete dua at
www.duas.org should you need it Insha Allah.

Bismillah al Rahmaan al Raheem

"Make lots of prayers for the hastening of relief, for in it is your
relief" - Letter from Imam Zamaan (ATF)

Grand Ayatollah Sayed M. Taqi al Modarresi has called on Shias all
over the world to ask for the reappearance of the Awaited Savior by
performing the special
Salaat Imam-e-Zamaan (see below for instructions) on the eve of the
23rd of the month of Ramadhan, the Night of Destiny, which is
inextricably linked to
the Imam of our time.

We call on all believers to take part in this global campaign and
perform this brief Salaat on this special night, as that could hasten
the Dawn of Humanity
and fill the earth with justice and end all oppression.

Over a million pilgrims are expected to take part in this campaign in
the holy shrine of Imam Hussein and perform the prayer under the
glorious dome of
the Imam, with millions of others in various Middle Eastern cities
across the region, and we ask believers around the world to join them.

How to perform the special prayer of Imam Zamaan:

It is composed of 2 Rak'ats, each with Surat al Fateha, until one
reaches verse: 5: "Iyyaka naA'budu wa iyyaka nastaA'een", then one
repeats this verse
100 times, then completes the Surah. After Surat al Fateha, Surat al
Ekhlas is recited once.

The second Rak'ah is done in the same manner.

Following the end of the prayer, the following supplication is recited:

Arabic:

اللهم عظم البلاء وبرح الخفاء وانكشف الغطاء وضاقت الأرض ومنعت السماء
وإليك يارب المشتكى وعليك المعول في الشدة والرخاء

اللهم صل على محمد وآل محمد الذين أمرتنا بطاعتهم وعجل اللهم فرجهم
بقائمهم وأظهر إعزازه

يا محمد يا علي ، يا علي يا محمد، أكفياني فإنكما كافياي، يا محمد يا
علي، يا علي يا محمد، انصراني فإنكما ناصراي، يا محمد يا علي، يا علي يا
محمد، احفظاني فإنكما
حافظاي

يا مولاي يا صاحب الزمان، يا مولاي يا صاحب الزمان، الغوث الغوث الغوث،
أدركني أدركني أدركني، الأمان الأمان الأمان

Transliteration:

Bismillaahir Rahmanir Raheem Ilaahi a'zomal balaa wa barehal khafa wan
kashefal ghita wan qata-ar rajaa wa zaaqatil arzo moneatis samaa wa
antal musta-aano
wa ilaikal mushtakaa wa a'laikal mu-awwalo fishshiddate war rekha.
Allaahumma salle a'laa muhammadinw wa aale Muhammad ulil amril lazeena
farazta a'laina
ta atahum wa arraftana be zaaleka manzilatohum fa farriz a'nna be
haqqehim farajan a'ajelan qareeba kalamhil basare a-huwa aqrab. Yaa
muhammado yaa a'li
yaa a'liyyo yaa Muhammad ikfiyaani fa inna kuma kaafiyaan naaseraan
wan suraani fa innakuma naaseraan yaa maulana yaa sahebaz zamaan al
ghauth al ghauth
al ghauth ad rikni ad rikni ad rikni as saa-a as saa- as saa-a al
a'jal al a'jal al a'jal yaa arhamrraahemeen be haqqe muhammadinw wa
aalehit taahereen.
Allaahumma
salle a'laa muhammadinw wa aale Muhammad.

Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. My God, terrible
was the calamity, and its evil consequences are visible, the covering
has been removed,
(all) hopes have been cut off, the (plentiful) earth has shrunk (with
very little to spare), the heavenly blessings have been withheld. Thou
alone can
help, we refer our grief and sorrow to Thee, we have full faith in
Thee, in the time of distress, as well as in good fortune. O Allah
send blessings on
Muhammad and on the progeny of Muhammad, whom we must obey as per Thy
command, through which we become aware of their rank and status, and
let there be
joy after sorrow for us, for their sake, right away, in the twinkle of
an eye, more rapidly than that. O Muhammad! O Ali! O Ali! O Muhammad!
Suffice me!
Because both of you provide sufficiently. And help me! For both of you
help and protect. O our master! O the living Imam! Refuge! Refuge!
Refuge! Reach
me! Reach me! Reach me! This hour! This hour! This hour! Do hurry! Do
hurry! Do hurry! O the Most Merciful. For the sake of Muhammad and his
purified Progeny.
O
Allah, bless Muhammad and the Progeny of Muhammad.

(originally from Sr. Roshni)

Sacrifice or Indulgence: Have We Lost Sight of the True Principles of Ramadan?

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

Sacrifice or Indulgence: Have We Lost Sight of the True Principles of Ramadan? 



A discussion with Tariq Ramadan and Sayed Mohammad Rizvi


-------------------
Please remember me in duas in this blessed month!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Ramadan Thoughts This Year

Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmautllah
I don't have an article or video to share, but I wanted to relate to you all some of my reflections on a couple of current events taking place in our world which concern me. I've been quietly watching the progress [there *must* be a better word!] of the flooding in Pakistan, as well as the spread of racist hate throughout the US.

It's so strange to me that the flooding in Pakistan happened now, during Ramadan. I mean, it started before Ramadan. However, it has been a major event in the Ummah for the entire month. And with Ramadan being a month in which we are to be especially charitable, I would think that donations would be flooding into Pakistan. They might just be. But I don't *feel* as if they are. And I am positive that our "Islamic" countries just aren't giving according to their abilities. That really upsets me. And it isn't because I expect more from our Islamic countries. They have proven themselves to be tight-fisted on many occasions like this. The need is just so dire now, though. It seems like such a violation of the concept of justice which we Muslims are supposed to uphold to see wealthy nations, ostensibly guided by Islamic principles, only bothering themselves to look like Muslims while not performing some of the most requisite Islamic acts.

And the hate. We have seen the wave of hate. Hardly anyone could have missed the anti-mosque protests, the arsons, vandalisms, attacks, even bombings which have been directed at our American communities. What we may not have noticed is that it isn't just us. Some of the most horrid, spitefully racist things have been said about our President, high-ranking Afro-descendant and Latino officials, and everyday people of colour. A gay legislator, along with an African-American legislator, were spat on by protesters from a certain conservative movement. We've even had some a synagogue in Maryland vandalised. As sister Masooma pointed out very eloquently in a recent article, this very obviously racist movement isn't targetting only us. I strongly feel that unless we stand together with others, including non-Muslims, of all colours, all religions, all ethnicities, all backgrounds, and voice our collective condemnation of the hate, we will all be suffering even worse violence. I also strongly feel that we need to take a long, hard look at our own communities and weed prejudice out of our own ranks. I am so sick of hearing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, or declarations that one would never marry a black person, or other hateful nonsense like that. And no, I don't think that we have the time to cure ourselves before we point out voices outwards. Now is the time to target hate from both directions: in and out.

And please donate for Pakistan, or do what you can to help.

PREPARING FOR LAYLATUL QADR




1. Is there a need to prepare for Lailatul Qadr?
In order to answer this, let us define what the word PREPARE means?
Simply, put it means to make ready or fit, to bring into a suitable state, to make one ready
For e.g. when we want to prepare a meal, or go out for an event, we must have a GOAL in mind.
As in what is my end result, the final dish or my final destination where I wish to end up.
And as per the subject under discussion i.e. “Preparing for Lailatul Qadr” our GOAL is to take full benefit/make full use of the BOUNTIES & RAHMA that Allah (swt) bestows opens us in this night of LAYLATUL QADR.

It is important that we first understand the significance of LAYLATUL QADR in order that we know what sort of ‘ingredients’ are required for our preparation to reach the Ultimate Goal which is earning the pleasure of Allah (swt)

2. What is Laylatul Qadr therefore?
You are all aware of its importance so I will just briefly re-run through it.
In surah AL Qadr Allah (swt) clearly states: "Surely We revealed it (the Holy Qur'an) on the grand night. And what will make you comprehend what the grand night. The grand night is better than a thousand months. The angels and Gabriel descend in it by the permission of their Lord for every affair, Peace! It is till the break of the morning." (97:1-5)

Allah (swt) is inviting all the believers for a Divine feast; the invitation which has been brought by the messengers. Allah (swt) is the host, his most favorite angels are the servants and the believers are the guests. The table is spread with Divine blessings containing all sorts of rewards and favors. Though the eyes cannot see them nor the ears hear them not the human hearts imagine them, yet the bounties are all kept in readiness to be awarded to the guests in accordance to her actions.

Lailatul-Qadr is a blessed night because the Almighty brings down during it goodness, bliss, and forgiveness for His servants. It is a feast which has come with a message that shows one the way to achieve happiness in both the worlds. Laylatul Qadr is a feast for the spirit, a feast of worship and prayers.
Ahadith indicate that the fate of every believer for the coming year is decreed on this night.
When our Prophet (saw) was asked how man could enjoy the favors and good grace of proximity to, and mercy of, Allah (swt) he quoted Nabi Musa’s (as) supplication:

“Oh My God, I seek proximity to You; He (Allah) said: Proximity to Me is for him who stays awake on Laylatul Qadr
“Oh My God, I am in need of Your Mercy; He said: My Mercy is for him who shows mercy to the poor on Laylatul Qadr
“Oh My God, I am in need of the passport to cross the bridge; He said: that is for him who give alms on Laylatul Qadr
“Oh My God, I am in need of the trees in Paradise and their fruits; He said: that is for him who seeks forgiveness on Laylatul Qadr
“Oh My God, I seek deliverance from fire; He said: that is for him who remembers Allah on Laylatul Qadr
“Oh My God, I seek Your good pleasure; He said: that is for him who says a two rakat prayer on Laylatul Qadr
On another occasion Nabi Musa (as) said: “Oh My God, are You far away that I shout to You, or are You near that I whisper to You?” He said: “O Musa, I am sitting together with you!”


3. What do we therefore have to remind ourselves about Laylatul Qadr? That it is:
• A unique once in a year opportunity to do a life times worth of activity.
• Full of long lasting blessings
• The night of unsurpassed grandeur when the absolute Grand God revealed the Grand qur’an through the Grand Wahy - Jibraeel into the heart of the Grand Holy Prophet (saw)
• A once in a year occasion for influencing our future destiny - “QADR” - taqdeer. The Masumeen have explained to us that god in his infinite wisdom had planned the system of the universe in such a way that every persons destiny will be determined on a yearly basis in the angelic spheres through the agency of the imam of the age. Who is the leader and focus of the whole spiritual world) this gives MANKIND a unique opportunity to influence his own future (gains, loss/health/sickness, richness/poverty/ etc by performing certain acts, e.g. dua salat, sadaqah, jihad, acquiring knowledge, quran recitation etc.
• The night when the whole multitude of angels and the great spirit (ruh) descend on earth, greeting and praying for the believers and conveying messages to the Imam of age.

4. Do we than still need to PREPARE OURSELVES FOR LAYLATUL QADR after knowing its significance?
Yes, Let us imagine for a moment that we are invited for a special feast by the president of our country, who also tells us in advance that he is going to reward us with magnificent gifts as per the way we present and behave ourselves during the feast - What would we do ?
After the initial euphoria, we would leave no stone unturned to present themselves in the best possible manner. Preparations of what to wear, how to get there, what will I speak with the president, If I have to go through his secretary what will I say to him, what sort of gifts will I take with me, what sort of conversation with I have with him, all this and more will be thought about, rehearsed and re-rehearsed. Correct me if I am wrong!!

All this ‘tension’ in honor of an invitation from the President of a country. Lailatul Qadr is an invitation form the President of all Presidents, The Supreme One. Do we need to make preparations for this night?

Undoubtedly, we must start our preparations way ahead of time, after all going by human fitra, there is more than profit that can be got from this feast of Lailatul Qadr unless out of sheer carelessness we end up amongst those negligent and idle ones, who do not achieve anything except tiredness, loss and eternal doom, who will gain nothing except regret and cry out aloud on the day of Reckoning:
"Ah! Woe upon me! In that I neglected (my duty) towards Allah."

5. What sort of Pre-preparations are needed before the advent of this grand Qadr?
Jibrael was asked; "What has the Almighty Allah done on this night with the wishes of the believers among the nation of Muhammad (pbuh)?" He answered, "The Almighty Allah has looked upon them on this night and forgiven them, all of them, except the following:
“One who is addicted to drinking, One who severs his ties with his kin, and One who is a trouble-maker."

We have been advised to beseech Allah (swt) during the whole year before the arrival of the Night of Power,
to keep us alive for this night,
• To bestow upon us the towfiq to remain vigilant during this night and pray for blessings and forgiveness.
• To bless us that we are able to do the best of deeds on this night
• To comprehend fully the importance of this night which is superior to one thousand months.
• To pray that we can become one of the favorites of Allah (swt) and be blessed with His love, learning, nearness, union, pleasure, together with health, happiness, and welfare;
• To yearn and act so that Allah (swt) be so pleased with us in such a manner, that after this night He would never be displeased us again.
• To pray that our Aimma esp. the Imam-ul-Asr be pleased with us & intercede on our behalf


6. How to Prepare oneself for The Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr).
(I) Preparing Mentally
• Strive to keep Allah (swt) at the fore of one’s mind the whole night long.
• All the Ibadah done should be recited in the state of being completely awake, aware, conscious, and with a live heart
If one feels that one will not be able to concentrate then start reciting from now "We are from Allah and towards Him is our return.” - Holy Qur'an (2:156) for it is considered as a tragedy if one can not in this night receive the divine grace in supplications
"Their prayers ascend upwards and reaches Allah, their words are accepted, and Allah loves to listen to their prayers the way a mother likes her own child."
Is not it shameful that the prayers which ascend upwards should be recited from the tip of the tongue, while the heart and soul remain occupied in worldly affairs?

Many a times, one feels that one cannot ‘properly’ perform a certain ibadah and so decided to forgo it. One should not do listen to this ‘waswas’ instead, one should perform it & more, for acceptance lies in the Hand of the Mercy of Allah (swt).

(ii) Preparing Physically
The other preparations to be done for this night are,
• for worshipping in this night a suitable place, dress, and perfume should be arranged in advance (comfortable dress which does not distract us)
• paying alms during this night - to the people who really deserve financial support
• Follow the translation of the duas in order to understand what you are reciting for lutf is only got when one knows what one is reciting.

(iii) Preparing spiritually
• increase ones eagerness for receiving the promised bounties and blessings;
• select worships and deeds which are more in harmony with ones mood
• When one stands for prayer, or any other ibadah, to briefly spare a moment to think about the wisdom of that action/its meaning etc for e.g. Why am I standing towards Mecca? To realize that when I stand on my two feet, it indicates my hope and fear about the acceptance of my worship
• Resorting (Tawassul) to Ahlul-Bait [a] - With persistence, supplicating in a polite and soft manner, with words and content arousing their sympathies, should beseech them for bestowing upon us the grace of being vigilant during this night.
• Crying and Shedding Tears:
that during these nights ones fear, humility, tears, crying, anguish, and lamentation be increased as much as possible. The Learned Scholar Hajj Mirza Javad Agha Maliki Tabrizi (r.a.) in his book (Suluk-i Arifan) Spiritual Journey of the Mystics tell us that One of the best method is that one should tie ones hands around ones neck; should pour dirt upon ones head; should place ones head against a wall; sometimes one should stand and sometimes one should cry; should imagine oneself at the scene of Judgment Day; and the way sinners are rebuked with harshness, then one should imagine and be scared least Allah (the Glorious, the Exalted) orders: "Seize ye him, bind ye him, burn ye him in the blazing fire, and make him march in a chain whereof the length is seventy cubits." - Holy Qur'an (69:30-32)
Then one should cry: "O' Thou are the most compassionate, and Thou Who are the shelter of unsheltered ones!" "Where is Your vast blessing? Where is Your infinite forgiveness? Where are Your love and benevolence?" Ask for forgiveness of past sins in the most appealing manner with a promise to try never to return to the sins again - a TAWBA in every sense of the word Present ones requests before the Almighty with full hope that they will be answered. The Prophet (S.A.W.) when asked what one should invoke Allah during these nights, said: "Ask for your safety (here and in the hereafter)".


7. Recommended Ibadah to be performed on The Night of Qadr:
WE are advised that this night be divided into 3 parts -
1st part to be allocated for Gaining Knowledge - Najhul Balagha, Tadabbur etc
2nd part to be allocated for Meditation (not when you are too sleepy)
One should not forget to select a period for having a private union between oneself and ones Creator and
3rd part to be allocated for Salatul Layl to connect with Nawaafil with Subh prayer

Suggested ways to get the maximum of this blessed opportunity”
1: Imam al- Sadiq (as) quotes “On all these nights, it is recommended that you perform the ghusl twice: once at the beginning of the night, and once at its end”.
When performing the recommended ghusl, to remember that while god likes physical cleanliness, more important He loves inner cleanliness of the heart, from immoral character e.g. jealousy, greed, etc. Thus resolve to clean the soul also by TAUBAH + JIHAD of NAFS

2: When praying 2 rakat namaz of recommended prayers with 7 times surah tawheed, make efforts to concentrate on the message of tawheed and get the heart to believe that truly GOD ALONE is ALL -powerful/All Merciful/Independent etc. therefore we should fear none BUT HIM, hope from none BUT HIM, we should ask from none BUT HIM

3: After the salaah when repeating ISTEGHFAR 70 times try to first be really repentant for serious mistakes done, sincerely ask for forgiveness either by: (a) recalling 70 different sins OR (b) feeling remorseful for 10 sins of the 7 main organs: eyes, ears, tongue, hands, mouth, stomach + private parts OR (c) some particular sins that you may have committed repeatedly OR
(d) recalling the variety of punishments of different sins and finally resolve NOT TO Repeat them in the future, then only can one realistically expect to deserve the reward the HP has promised “Whoever performs this act will surely be forgiven by the Almighty even before here rises from his place".

When opening the qur’an and praying for your needs with the intercession of the qur’an, realize that while the qur’an is a cure for spiritual illness, it only benefits the pious ones and the evil doers are deprived of its illumination. Thus increase the chances for qur’an intercession to work on your behalf by earnestly following the rulings of the qur’an.

While placing the qur’an on the head. Remind yourself that true salvation can only be achieved by always keeping the rules of qur’an ahead of us to follow. The fact that we put the Qur’an on our head is a sign of respect and reverence. We beseech Allah by the thaqalayn - the speaking and the silent Qur'an. - Holy Qur'an (39:56)

As you seek intercession of the Al mighty (bika ya al…) and the 14 infallibles realize that God is limitless Ounces of Mercy and the Ma’sumen pure agencies for the distribution of divine mercy to all creations.

While performing Ziyarah of Imam Husein (as), remind yourself that on this august night, the souls of 124,000 Prophets (peace be upon them all) visit Imam, who is aware of our inner spiritual reality and is hurt and repulsed by our record of repeated evil deeds, indifference to God’s commandments; thus, we should avoid disgracing ourselves in that great audience of Imam. Also, associate the themes in the ZIYARAH of:
• Firm bond of love and obedience of God (SALAT).
• Economic betterment of community (ZAKAT).
• Overall mobilization of forces towards virtue (AMR BIL MA`RUF).
• Overall cleansing of evil from society.
• All-out war in all spheres of life to promote truth (JIHAD).
• Tremendous endurance of all ensuing difficulties (SABR).
• Complete distancing (LA`NAH) from all forms of injustice (DHULM) with destiny- shaping opportunity of this night and resolve to become on active player in improving the future in preparation for the REAPPEARANCE OF AL-MAHDI.

8. How to Farewell the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr) One should resort (tawassul) to the M'asumin - to whom that night belongs - should submit ones deeds & worship to those exalted ones, with a heart broken, with grief & shedding tears, should request them to make those deeds as righteous, and request them to intercede with Allah (swt)

9. The Day of Power (Qadr)
According to Ahadeeth both the night and day are interconnected, as far as their worth, value, esteem, and splendor are concerned, i.e. if the day is esteemed and honorable, the night of that day also possesses the same distinction and vice versa. Therefore, we must appreciate the importance of the Days of Power and like the Nights of Power, should celebrate them by sincerely performing worships and righteous deeds.

On a final note, our destiny to large extent can be changed in this very night and much depends on us, how we decide to utilize both the night and the day of Qadr and for that matter each single moment of this blessed month of Ramadhan.

Let us therefore pray together that we may be granted the Tawfiq to be able to do the A’maals of Laylatul Qadr in its correct essence, that we may be granted the Maghferah and that we may earn the Pleasure of Allah (swt) in such a manner that our lives take a positive turn in a manner that we may earn the salvation for both this world and the Hereafter. Ameen

A humble request that we remember each other in our prayers and especially those we do not forget our Marhumeen...

Rabbana Taqabbul Minna……………

Source : http://www.dartabligh.org/

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Laylatul Qadr and Martyrdom of Imam Ali (as)


Aamal for 19th, 21st, and 23rd nights here.

The month of Ramadhan has been singled out for special worship (`Ibadat) and exclusive favours. It is a month unlike other months. One reason for this, as defined by the Qur'an, is because the Holy Qur'an was revealed in this month. Says Allah in Sura al­Baqarah: The month of Ramadhan, that in which the Qur'an was sent down; a guidance for mankind, and clear signs of guidance and distinction (2:185). In fact, according to a hadith of the 6th Imam (a), the other holy books were also revealed in this month.

Among the nights of Ramadhan is one special night, which is better than a thousand months (HQ, 97:3). Good deeds performed on that single night are equal to those performed over a thousand months. It is the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr), when the Qur'an was revealed. Some commentators believe it was the night when the Qur'an was brought down from Baytul M`amur (Heavenly abode), for Jibrael to reveal in parts to the Prophet (s). Others say it was the night when the Prophet received the entire Qur'an, but was asked to transmit it as and when the occasion demanded.

Laylatul Qadr is a celebration to commemorate the arrival of the final guidance for humans. It is a tribute to the commencement of the message revealed to mankind by their Creator, a message which shows them the way to achieve happiness in both the worlds. Just as the arrival of a child is celebrated, on its birth and then every year, as a bringer of joy and fulfilment for the family, Laylatul Qadr is celebrated as a bringer of light and guidance for mankind. Unlike the birthday which is celebrated with a feast for the senses, Laylatul Qadr includes a feast for the spirit, a feast of worship and prayers.

Some Ahadith indicate that the fate of every believer for the coming year is decreed on this night. That is why the Du`as for this night ask for special favours in the decree for the year. Believers are encouraged to stay awake the entire night, and pray for blessings and forgiveness. It is the holiest night of the year, and it would be unwise to be heedless of the tremendous benefits of this night.


The Last Will of Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS)

Imam Ali's (AS) last will to his sons Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Hussain (AS) after the attempt on his life by a stab from Ibn Muljam:

My advice to you is to be conscious of Allah and steadfast in your religion. Do not yearn for the world, and do not be seduced by it. Do not resent anything you have missed in it. Proclaim the truth; work for the next world. Oppose the oppressor and support the oppressed.

I advise you, and all my children, my relatives, and whosoever receives this message, to be conscious of Allah, to remove your differences, and to strengthen your ties. I heard your grandfather, peace be upon him, say: "Reconciliation of your differences is more worthy than all prayers and all fasting."

Fear Allah in matters concerning orphans. Attend to their nutrition and do not forget their interests in the middle of yours.

Fear Allah in your relations with your neighbors. Your Prophet often recommended them to you, so much so that we thought he would give them a share in inheritance.

Remain attached to the Quran. Nobody should surpass you in being intent on it, or more sincere in implementing it.

Fear Allah in relation to your prayers. It is the pillar of your religion.

Fear Allah in relation to His House; do not abandon it as long as you live. It you should do that you would abandon your dignity.

Persist in jihad in the cause of Allah, with your money, your souls, and your tongue.

Maintain communication and exchange of opinion among yourselves. Beware of disunity and enmity. Do not desist from promoting good deeds and cautioning against bad ones. Should you do that,the worst among you would be your leaders, and you will call upon Allah without response.

O Children of Abdul Mattaleb! Do not shed the blood of Muslims under the banner: The Imam has been assassinated! Only the assassin should be condemned to death.

If I die of this stab of his, kill him with one similar stroke. Do not mutilate him! I have heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, say: "Mutilate not even a rabid dog."

Source: Najul Balagha

In the 40th year of Hijri, in the small hours of the morning of 19th Ramadan, Imam Ali (AS) was struck with a poisoned sword by the Kharijite Ibn Maljam while offering his prayers in the Masjid of Kufa. He died on the 21st day of Ramadan 40 A.H. and buried in Najaf-ul-Ashraf. He was born in the House of Allah, the Kaaba, and martryed in the House of Allah, Masjid-e-Kufa. The Lion of Allah, the most brave and gentle Muslim after the Prophet (PBUH&HF) himself, began his glorious life with devotion to Allah and His Messenger, and ended it in the service of Islam.

"And do not speak of those who are slain in the the Way of Allah as dead; nay, they are alive, but you perceive not." Quran 2:154

Why Religious Fasting Could be Good for your Health

By Andrea Useem | September 17, 2008

Ramadan is in its third week now, and the required dawn-to-dusk fasting often feels like a daily mini–marathon. By late afternoon, hunger and thirst have sucked me dry, leaving me sleepy, slow-minded, and sometimes short-tempered.
I know that the purpose of fasting is spiritual—God will reward us in the next life—but in this lifetime, fasting sometimes makes me an ineffective, irritable person. So I was excited to learn that Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey, MD, had spoken at a recent Renaissance Weekend event about how caloric restriction can improve brain function.

I emailed Dr. Ratey to find out if those benefits might extend to religious fasting, and he sent me a 2006 paper on the brain functioning of men during the Ramadan fast. The researchers studied a small group of healthy men during and after the holy month, looking at their brain activity via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They concluded that “all individual results showed consistent and significant increase of activity in the motor cortex during fasting.”

Other research shows similar results
That research builds on the work of other scientists, including Mark Mattson, PhD, who heads a neuroscience lab at the NIH’s National Institute on Aging. Mattson has done important research on how dietary restrictions can significantly protect the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

In a 2003 article, Mattson and others reported that rats who were deprived of food every other day, or restricted to a diet at 30% to 50% of normal calorie levels, showed not only decreased heart rates and blood pressure, but also “younger” brains, with “numerous age-related changes in gene expression.”

Mattson and his colleagues also shared data from research on humans, which shows that populations with higher caloric intakes—such as the United States and Europe—have a greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s than do populations that eat less—such as China and Japan. The authors speculate that humans may have adapted to conditions of feast and famine; the stress of having little food, they write, “may induce changes in gene expression that result in adaptive changes in cellular metabolism and the increased ability of the organism to reduce stress.”

Although this research is relatively new, with many questions left unanswered, the authors conclude that “it seems a safe bet that if people would incorporate a spartan approach to food intake into their lifestyles, this would greatly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke.” (Of course, how this recommendation translates for individual people remains almost a complete unknown; consult with your own doctor before restricting your diet in dramatic ways.)

But here’s the hard part: Although we know eating too much leads to all sorts of health problems, “it has proven very difficult to successfully implement prolonged dietary-restriction regimens,” reports Mattson and his team. Information and doctor’s orders are rarely enough motivation.

This last observation gave me hope, because it seemed the authors were overlooking the role of religion; it can inspire people in ways information or experts don’t. Would I be undergoing this rigorous month of fasting unless I believed strongly it was the right thing for me to do? Probably not. And the same goes for millions of Muslims around the world.

And many other religions include fasting or dietary restrictions as part of their religious observances. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons, for example, fast one Sunday a month. The Orthodox Church in America notes five separate fasting seasons on its website, in addition to individual fast days; during some of these fasts, all food is restricted, and during other fasts, only certain foods are off-limits. Some Roman Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays, and all do during Lent. Many types of Buddhist monks abide by a code that prohibits eating after noon each day.

Science may only now be discovering that some of these religious practices, both ancient and modern, offer nourishment not just for the soul, but for the body as well.

From Tafseer Al-Mizan , Ch.1, Verse 6-7

In the name of Allah the most Merciful Beneficent

Holy Quran:

{6} Guide us to the straight path. {7} The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors, not of those inflicted by Thy wrath, nor of those gone astray.



Commentary

QUR'AN: Guide us to the straight path... nor of those gone astray: The meaning of "al-hidayah" (guidance, to guide) may easily be understood, if we consider first the significance of the "path." "as-Sirat" (path) is synonymous with "at-tariq" and "as-sabil. In these verses, Allah has commended the path that it is straight and that it is the path taken by those upon whom Allah has bestowed His bounties and favors. It is this path guidance to which has been asked for. And it is the ultimate goal of the worship: The servant prays to his Lord that his worship, clean from all impurities, be performed in this path.

Allah has mentioned in His Book that He has laid down a path for man, nay, for all the creation, a path upon which they are proceeding. He says: 0 man! surely thou artstriving to thy Lord, a hard striving, until thou art to meet Him (84:6); ...and to Him is the ultimate resort (64:3); ...now surely to Allah do all affairs eventually come (42:53). There are many such verses, showing that all are proceeding on a prescribed road and that their destination is Allah.

So far as the way is concerned, Allah has said that there are two ways, not one: Did I not enjoin on you, 0 children of Adam! that you should not worship the Satan? Surely he is your open enemy. And that you should worship Me; this is the straight path (30:60-61). So, there is a straight path, and also there is another path. Again He has said: ...then verily I am near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me, that they may walk in the rightway (2:186); Call upon Me, I will answer you. Verily, those who are arrogant to My worship shall soon enter hell, disgraced (40:60). Obviously, Allah is near to Ms servants, and the nearer path to Him is that of worship and prayer. Compare it with description of those who do not believe in Him: ...these shall be called to from a far-off place (41:44). Obviously, the station of unbelievers is far-off place.

There are thus two ways to Allah, a near one - the way of the believers - and a distant one, that of the others. It is the first difference between the ways.

Second difference: Surely (as for) those who reject Our signs and turn away from them haughtily, the doors of heaven shall not be opened for them (7:40). What is the function of a door? To let authorized people pass through it and bar the entry to unauthorized ones. The verse shows that there isa passage from the lower level to the upper heights. On the other hand, Allah says: ...and to whomsoever My wrath descends he shall perish indeed (20:81). The word translated here as "shall perish" literally means "shall fall down." Therefore, there is another passage coming for the upper heights to the lower level. Also He says: ...and whoever adopts unbelief instead of faith, he indeed has gone astray from (i.e., has lost) the right way (2: 108). Allah uses the term "polytheism" for "going astray."*

Accordingly, people are divided into three categories: First, those who proceed to the upper heights - those who believe in the signs of Allah and are not arrogant to His worship. Second, those who fall down to the lower levels - they are those upon whom the wrath of Allah has descended. Third, those who have gone astray from the right path; they are lost, wandering hither and thither. The last verse under discussion points to these three categories: "the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors, not of those inflicted by Thy wrath, nor of those gone astray."

Obviously, "the straight path" is separate from the last two paths. It is the path of the believers who are not arrogant. At the same time, the following verse shows that the straight path itself may be divided in various "traffic lanes", ways or branches: ...Allah will exalt those of you who believe, and those who are given knowledge, in high degrees. (58:11) This statement needs some elaboration:

Every straying is polytheism and vice versa, as may be inferred from the words of Allah: ...and whoever adopts unbelief instead of faith, he indeed has gone astray from the tight way (2:108). The same is the theme of the verse: Did not I enjoin on you, 0 children of Adam! that you should not worship the Satan? Surely he is your open enemy. And that you should worship Me; this is the straight path. And certainly he has led astray a great multitude from among you (36:60-62). Likewise, the Qur'an counts polytheism as injustice and vice versa, as may be seen in the words which the Satan shall utter after the judgment will be delivered against him and his followers: ...surely I disbelieved in your associating me with Allah, before; surely it is the unjust that shall have the painful punishment (14:22). Then it counts injustice as straying: Those who believe and do not mix up their faith with injustice, those are they who shall have the security and they are those who shall be guided aright (6:82). It should be noted that they shall be guided aright and shall have security against straying or its resulting punishment only if they do not mix their faith with injustice and inequity.

It is clear from looking at these verses together that going astray, polytheism and inequity all have the same effect; all three are adjunct to each other. That is why it is said that each of them is identifiable by the other two. For all practical purposes the three are one and the same, although they may be different in their literal meaning.

The straight path, then, is different from that of those who have gone astray; it is a path which is far away from polytheism and injustice. There can be no straying in this path - neither in hidden ideas and beliefs (for example, the disbelief or the thoughts disapproved by Allah); nor in open actions or omissions (like committing a sin or omitting a good deed). It is the true monotheism in belief and in deeds. And what is there after the truth but error? The above-mentioned verse 6:82, fits on it completely. That verse guarantees -security in the way and promises perfect guidance. The promise is inferred from the fact that the original word translated as "guided aright" is noun-agent, and the grammarians say that such a noun is really made for future. This is one feature of the straight path.

Allah has identified those bestowed with divine favors, in the verse: And whoever obeys Allah and the Apostle, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the righteous ones; and excellent are these as companions (4:69). The belief and the obedience have been explained shortly before it in these words: But no! by your Lord! they do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then they do not find any straitness in their selves as to what you have decided, and submit with total submission. And if We had prescribed for them: Kill yourselves or go forth from your homes, they would not have done it except a few of them; and if they had done what they were admonished, it would have certainly been better for them and most efficacious in strengthening (them) (4:65 66). Those who truly believe are really strong in their servitude and submission, in words and in deeds; in appearance and in secret. Yet such perfect believers shall be placed in a rank behind those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors; that is why Allah has said, "these are with those..." and not, 'among those'. They shall be with them, but not of them. It is further strengthened by the last sentence, "and excellent are these as Companions." Companions are other than the self.

There is another, somewhat similar, verse in fifty-seventh chapter: and (as for) those who believe in Allah and His apostles, these it is that are the truthful and the martyrs with their Lord; they shall have their reward and their light... (57:19). The believers, thus, shall be included in the ranks of the martyrs and the truthful - in the life hereafter. The fact that it will happen in the next world is inferred from the-words, "with their Lord", and "they shall have their reward ."

Those bestowed with divine favors who are the people of the straight path - with whose relationship the straight path is identified - have greater prestige and higher rank than these believers who have cleansed their beliefs and actions from straying, polytheism and injustice. Pondering on these verses together, one feels sure that this group of the believers (with this quality) still continues; it has not come to its end. Had this group completed its term, it would have been counted among (and not, "with") those bestowed with favors; these believers would have gone up and instead of being with those bestowed with favors, would have become part of them. They probably are among those who have been given knowledge from Allah, as He says: Allah will exalt those of you who believe, and those who are given knowledge, in high degrees (58:11).

The people of the straight path are bestowed with excellent bounties that are more precious than that of the complete faith and perfect belief. This is the second feature of the straight path.

Allah repeatedly mentions as-sirat (path) and as-sabil (way) in the Qur'an; but He has never attributed to Himself except one straight path; although He attributes several ways to Himself And (as for) those who starve hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them onto Our ways (29:69).

Likewise, He has never ascribed "the straight path" to any of his servants, the only exception being this verse under discussion which ascribes it to those who are bestowed with divine favors; but He frequently attributes "the way" to one or the other of His chosen servants: Say: "This is my way; I invite you unto Allah; with clear sight (are) I and he who follows me" (I2:108); ...and follow the way of him who turns to Me (31:15); ...the way of the believers... (4:115). It is an indication that "the way" is other than "the straight path." There may be various and different ways taken by various chosen servants proceeding on the way of worship and submission; but "the straight path" is only one, as Allah points to it in these words: Indeed, there has come to you a light and a clear Book from Allah; with it Allah guides him who follows His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness into light by His permission and guides them to the straight path (5:15 -16). See, how the verse refers to "the ways" (in plural), and to "the straight path" (in singular). Now, there may be two explanations for it. Either "the straight path" is the same thing as "the ways", or "the ways" on going further join together and then merge into the straight path.

There is another difference between the straight path and the way. Allah says: And most of them do not believe in Allah without associating others (with Him) (12:106). Note how the believers are said to associate others with Allah. It shows that some sort of polytheism (that is, straying) may co-exist with belief (and the belief is a "way"); in other words the way may co-exist with polytheism. But the straight path cannot do so because it is not the path of those who have gone astray.

Each of these ways has some excellence or some deficiency - but not so the straight path. Each way is a part of the straight path, but is distinguished from the other ways. It may be inferred from the above-mentioned verses as well as from others. For example, Allah says: And that you worship Me; this is the straight path (36:61) ; Say: "Surely, (as for) me, my Lord has guided me to the straight path; (to) a most right religion, the faith of Ibrahim the upright one" (6:161). The worship and the religion are common to all the ways, and they are also "the straight path." The relation of the straight path to the ways of Allah is that of the soul to the body. The body, during the life, undergoes countless changes, varies from day to day - from infancy to childhood; from adolescence to youth, from middle to old age and to senility. But the soul remains the same, and is always one with body at every stage. Sometimes, the body is inflicted with undesirable effects, which the soul would never accept, if left to itself. But the soul - the creation of Allah, upon which He created the man - never deteriorates. Yet, in all these states, the body remains one with the soul. Likewise, the ways of Allah are one with the straight path; but sometimes a way - the way of the believers, of the followers of the Prophet of those who turn towards Allah or any other way - suffers from some kind of deterioration, although the straight path is immune from all defects and imperfections. You have seen how one of the ways, the belief sometimes combines with polytheism and straying, but the straight path does not do so. In short, the ways are of various grades near or distant; safe or unsafe; clean or unclean - but all are in the straight path, or, let us say, are one with the straight path.

Allah has mentioned this fact, in a parable of truth and falsehood, in these words: He sends down water from the heaven, then the valleys flow according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam; and from what they melt in the fire for the sake of (making) ornaments or apparatus arises a scum like it; thus does Allah compare truth and falsehood,- then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing; and as for that which profits the people, it remains in the earth; thus does Allah set forth parables (13:17). It clearly shows that the hearts and mind differ in their abilities and capacities to receive the divine knowledge and spiritual perfection, although all partake of the same divine sustenance. (Its full explanation will be written in the chapter 13).

This was, however, the third feature of the straight path.

From the above analysis it may be seen that the straight path is a sort of controller of all the ways leading to Allah. We may say that a way leading to Allah leads a man to Him as long as it remains one with the straight path; but the straight path leads to Allah unconditionally, without any if or but. That is why Allah has named it "as-siratul-mustaqim" (the straight path). as-Sirat means a clear path, and is derived from "saratttu sartan" (I swallowed it completely); in other words, this clear path swallows its walkers; without letting them go out. "al-Mustaqim" (straight)

literally means the one who stands on his legs, and has full control of himself as well as of the things attached to him. In other words, it is a thing, which is not subjected to change or variation. Thus "as-siratu'l-mustaqim" = the straight path is the path which never fails to guide and to lead the walker to his destination. Allah says: Then as for those who believe in Allah and hold fast unto Him, soon will He admit them to Mercy from Him and (His) Grace, and guide them unto Himself (by) the straight path (4:175). Obviously this guidance does not fail; it always succeeds. Also He has said: Therefore (for) whomsoever Allah intends that He would guide him aught, He expands his breast for Islam, and (for) whomsoever He intends that He should leave him to err, He makes his breast strait and narrow as though he were ascending into the sky; thus does Allah lay uncleanliness on those who do not believe. And this is the path of your Lord, (a) straight (path) (6:125 -126). That is, this is Allah's path that never changes, nor does it fail to reach its destination. Again He says: He said: "7his is a straight path with Me; surely as regards My servants, thou hast no authority over them except those who follow thee of the deviators" (15:41 - 42). The verse declares that this is His settled course which never varies. In this way, it conveys the same idea which is contained in the verse: For you shall not find any alteration in the course of Allah; and you shall not find any change in the course of Allah (35:43).

The above-mentioned discourse has made the following points clear:

First: There are various ways to Allah each differing with others in perfection, easiness and smoothness. It all depends on its nearness or remoteness from the basic reality, from the straight path, like the way of submission, of faith, of worship, of purity of intention or of humility before Allah. Some of the ways leading to the opposite direction are disbelief, polytheism, infidelity, exceeding the bounds, committing sins etc. Allah has said: And for all are grades according to what they did, and so that He may pay them back fully their deeds and they shall not be dealt with unjustly (46:19). The same is the case with the spiritual knowledge which the human mind receives from Allah. They vary according to mental and spiritual capacity of the receivers, and are tinted by colors of visions of the beholders. This fact is shown in the Qur'anic parable mentioned earlier: He sends down water from the heaven, then the valleys flow according to their measure (13:17).

Second: The straight path controls all the ways. Likewise, the people of the straight path (who have been firmly established in it by Allah) do enjoy complete authority to guide the other servants of Allah. Allah says: ...and excellent are these as companions (4:69); Verily, your only Master is Allah and His Apostle and those who believe, those who keep up prayer and pay zakat while they are bowing down (5:55). The last mentioned verse was revealed about 'All, the Leader of the faithful (a.s.), as al-mutawatir traditions say; and he (peace be on him) was the first to open this door in Islam. More details of it will be given in the fifth chapter. Third: The import of the guidance to the way depends on the meaning of the way itself. al-Hidaya means to guide, to lead; it accepts two objects, either without any preposition (as in the language of Hijaz) or with ila (to) before the second object (as in the language of other tribes). This detail has been given in as-Sihah of al-Jawhari, and obviously it is correct. Before going further, a mistaken notion should ' be removed. Some people think that the meaning of guidance changes, depending on whether its second object is preceded by the preposition ila or not. If there is no such preposition, then according to them, guidance means "to convey to the destination"; if it is preceded by ila, then it denotes "to show the path." In evidence, they offer the following verses: Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases (28:56). This verse, in which the verbs, "cannot guide" and "guides", have been used without preposition, says that the Prophet could not guide whom he pleased. But it is known that he, throughout his life, guided the people, that is, showed them the path of Allah. Therefore, what has been negated must be the other meaning. What the verse, then, says is this: you cannot convey to the spiritual goal whom you please; but it is Allah who conveys to that destination whom He pleases. This difference in meaning is more clearly seen in the verses: And We would certainly have guided them in the right path (4:68). The verb (in the Arabic text) has been used without any preposition and it refers to the divine guidance -that is, conveyance to destination. And Allah addresses the Prophet in these words: and most surely you guide to the right path (42:52). Here the verb is followed by ila and the sentence attributes to the Prophet the task of guidance, in the meaning of showing the way. According to their reasoning the three verses put together show that when guidance is used in the meaning of "conveying to destination", its second object accepts no preposition; when it is used for "showing the path", the said object is preceded by ila.

But this notion is not supported by the Qur'an. Allah quotes the believer of the people of Pharaoh as saying: "O my people! follow me, I will guide you to the right course" (40:38). Here the Arabic text has no preposition and yet it does not mean conveying to destination, it only denotes showing the way.

What has been mentioned in the verse 28:56 (Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases) is the reality or perfection of guidance. The verse shows that the Prophet could not bestow on his people the perfect guidance, the reality of guidance, as it was a task that Allah has reserved for Himself.

In short, the meaning of guidance does not depend on preposition ila coming or not coming before the second object. In both cases the meaning is the same.

al-Hidayah means to guide, to show the destination by showing the way, or, let us say, to convey to the destination. Guidance, in reality, is reserved for Allah, and He guides His servants by creating such causes that point the destination to them and lead them to their spiritual goal. Allah says: Therefore (for) whomsoever Allah intends that He would guide him alight, He expands his breast for Islam (6:125); ...then their skins and their hearts become pliant to the remembrance of Allah; this is Allah's guidance, He guides with it whom He pleases (39:23). The verb "become pliant" is followed by the preposition "to", giving the verb a shade of meaning of inclination and repose. Guidance, thus, means that Allah creates in the heart an aptitude by which it initiates, accepts, inclines towards and becomes serene in the remembrance of Allah. It has been mentioned earlier that there are many ways leading to Allah. Consequently, guidance for one way would differ from those of the others. Each way has a special guidance of its own. This variation has been hinted at in the verse: And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them unto Our ways; and Allah is most surely with the doers of good (29:69). A man strives "in the way of Allah"; and another strives "for Allah." There is a great difference between the two. The first tries to keep the way safe and free from all dangers and blockades; the second's attention is fixed on Allah only. It is this man who is praised in this verse - he strives hard for Allah; thereupon Allah helps him and guides him on the way most suited to his ability and power; and thereafter keeps guiding him from one way to another until He exclusively attaches him to Himself.

Fourth: The straight path is preserved in the ways of Allah - the ways that are of various grades and levels. Allah guides man to it; and the man is thus guided aright. As mentioned above, Allah may keep guiding a man from one way to the other which is of a higher grade, and then to a third one still higher. The prayer in this verse, "Guide us to the straight path" (revealed on behalf of those whom Allah has already guided to His worship) points to this very fact. If we keep this point in view, there would be no room for an objection like the following: The one who utters this prayer is already guided aright - how can he pray afresh for guidance? It would be an attempt to re-obtain a thing which is already in hand, and it is just impossible. Also, the worshipper is already on the straight path - how can he pray to be guided again to the same path? Isn't it an impossibility? But the explanation given by us clears away the mist of such objections.

Another objection: Our Law is the most perfect and most comprehensive of all the laws sent by Allah since the dawn of humanity. Why should we ask from Allah to guide us to the path of those of the previous people upon whom He had bestowed favors?

Reply: Admittedly, the Law brought by Muhammad (s.a.w.) is more perfect than any other one. But it does not necessarily mean that all those who follow this Law are more perfect than all those who followed the previous laws. An average follower of the Law of Muhammad (s.a.w.) cannot surpass Nuh or lbrahim (a.s.), although their laws were sent long before the Islamic Law. It is one thing to accept and follow a law; it is quite another to get spiritual perfection by total submission - by perfectly molding oneself in that law's pattern. A believer of previous nations who attained a high spiritual level, who became a mirror of divine attributes, -is most certainly better than, and superior to, a follower of this law who did not reach that state - even though the latter would be following the most perfect and comprehensive law, that is, the Law of Muhammad (s.a.w.). Therefore, it is quite in order for a believer of lower grade (although he may follow a perfect law) to pray to Allah to help him reach the level of a believer of higher grade (although he might have followed a less perfect law).

An exegete has replied to the above-mentioned objection in a way that is not free from defects. He has said: The religion of Allah is one, and that is Islam. The fundamental truths - the belief in One God, the Prophethood and the Day of Judgment and all that results from this belief - are the same in all the laws and revelations sent by Allah. The Law of Islam has an added distinction, in that it covers all aspects of human life and is, thus, the most comprehensive one. It looks more properly after public welfare. Moreover, its foundation is laid on reasoning - in all its forms: The logic, the admonition and the goodly argumentation.

All divine religions are, thus, the same and the fundamental truths are common to all. The previous people have preceded us in this path. Therefore, Allah has ordered us to look into their affairs, to take lessons from them and to follow them to spiritual perfection.

The author says: The principle upon which this reply is based is against the principles that guide us in exegesis of the Qur'an. The reply assumes that the realities of fundamental truths are on the same level in all the religions; that there is no difference in their grades; that the spiritual perfection and religious virtues are of the same quality everywhere. According to this view, the highest ranking prophet is equal to the lowest type of believer in his existence and natural perfection - so far as his creation is concerned. The difference, if any, is based on the subjective outlook of shari'ah, not on any matter of creation. In their opinion, this case is similar to that of a king vis-a-vis his subjects - they are not different in their human existence, the difference is in their subjective and assumed positions only which are laid down by people and which do not have any independent existence.

This thinking, in its turn, is based on the theory of materialism, which teaches that nothing exists but matter; metaphysical "things" have no existence at all (or, at least, we are not in a position to know that they exist). The only exception is God, and we believe in His existence because of logical evidence.

Those who accepted this view did so because, coming under the influence of natural sciences, they put all their confidence in their five senses. Or because they thought that "commonsense" was enough for explaining the divine words, and therefore, neglected to meditate on the Qur'an. God willing, we shall throw more light on this subject at some other place.

Fifth: The people of the straight path are higher in rank than others, and their path is superior to the others' ways. It is because of their knowledge, and not because of their virtuous deeds. They have that knowledge of divine aThe following verses too point to this fact: Allah will exalt those of You who believe, and those who are given knowledge in higher degrees (58:11); To Him do ascend the good words; and the good deed lifts them up (35:10). What ascends to Allah is the good words, that is, true belief and knowledge; good deeds lift up the good words and help them in their ascension, without themselves going up. We shall fully discuss this verse when we shall reach it.

Fifth: The people of the straight path are higher in rank than others, and their path is superior to the others' ways. It is because of their knowledge, and not because of their virtuous deeds. They have that knowledge of divine attributes which is hidden from others. (We have explained earlier that perfection of virtuous deeds is found in some of the inferior ways also. Therefore, deeds cannot be the criterion by which the people of the straight Path are given excellence over the rest.) The question arises as to what is that knowledge and how it is acquired. We shall deal with these questions when we shall explain the verse 13:17 (He sends down water from the heaven, then the valleys flow according to their measure) The following verses too point to this fact: Allah will exalt those of You who believe, and those who are given knowledge in higher degrees (58:11); To Him do ascend the good words; and the good deed lifts them up (35:10). What ascends to Allah is the good words, that is, true belief and knowledge; good deeds lift up the good words and help them in their ascension, without themselves going up. We shall fully discuss this verse when we shall reach it.

Traditions

as-Sadiq (a.s.) said about the meaning of worship: "Worship is of three kinds: some people worship Allah, because they fear Him - so it is the worship of slaves; and a group worships Allah, Blessed and High is He, to seek reward - so it is the worship of hirelings; and a group worships Allah, Mighty and Great is He, because of (His) love - and this is the worship of noble persons, and it is the most excellent worship." (al-Kafi)

Verily, some people worshipped Allah being desirous (Of His reward) - so this is the worship of traders; and some people worshipped Allah fearing (His punishment) - so it is the worship of slaves, and a group worshipped Allah in gratitude (to Him) so this is the worship of noble men. (Nahju 'I-balaghah)

as-Sadiq (as.) said: 'Verily people worship Allah in three ways: One group worships Him in desire of His reward, and it is the worship of covetous ones, and it is greed; and others Worship Him in dread of the Fire, and it is the worship of slaves, and it is fear; but I worship Him in His love - Mighty and Great is He and this is the worship of noble ones. (It is) because Allah has said: and they shall be secure from terror on that days (27: 89); and He has said, Say: If You love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you... (3:31). Therefore, whosoever is loved by Allah, he shall be among the secure ones; and it is a hidden position, cannot touch it save the purified ones." (al-Ilal, al-Majalis and al-Khisal)

The author says: The meaning of these traditions may be understood from the preceding commentary. The Imams (of Ahlu 'I-bayt) have variously attributed the worship of the noble ones sometimes to gratitude and sometimes to love, because in final analysis both are one and the same. Gratitude and thank means putting the received bounty in its proper place. It is the thank of worship that it should be addressed to Allah, as only He, Himself, deserves to be worshipped. A115h is worshipped because He is Allah, that is, because He alone holds all attributes of beauty and glory. He, of all things, is Beautiful; He alone is loved for Himself. What is love? It is inclination and attraction towards beauty. We say: He is worshipped because He is He; We may express the same idea if we say: He is worshipped because He is beautiful and beloved. Again, the same theme may be explained by saying that He is worshipped because He is the Bestower of favors and is thanked through worship. All three expressions carry the same import. It has been narrated through Sunni chains that as-Sadiq (a.s.) explained the verse, "Thee do we worship..." in these words: "We do not ask from Thee other than Thee, and we do not worship Thee by substitute and replacement, as do those who are ignorant of Thee, removed from Thee."

The author says: This tradition points to what has been explained in the commentary that worship demands presence (of heart) and purity (of intention) which does not allow diversion to any substitute, to anything else. as-Sadiq (a.s.) said inter alia in a tradition: "And whosoever thinks that he worships (Allah) by (His) attributes without being conscious of Him, he refers (his worship) to an absent one; and whosoever thinks that he worships the attribute and the person (having that attribute) he nullifies monotheism, because the attribute is other than the person; and whosoever thinks that he ascribes the person to the attribute, he belittles the Great One, 'and the do not assign to Allah His proper prestige..." (Tuhafu 'I-'uqul)

as-Sadiq (a.s.) explained the verse: Guide us to the straight path, in these words: "Guide us to adhere to the path that leads to Thy love, and conveys to Thy Garden, (the path that) prevents us from following our desires (lest we be ruined) and from adhering to our opinions (lest we be destroyed). (Ma'ani 'I-akhbar)

The same book quotes 'Ali (a.s.) as saying about this verse: "Continue for us Thy help with which we obeyed Thee in our past days, so that we continue to obey Thee in our coming days also.

The author says: The two traditions point to two aspects of the reply of the previously mentioned objection - that the prayer for guidance, addressed by a person already guided aright, is trying to obtain a thing in hand, and that it was asking for impossible. The first tradition looks at the difference in the grades of guidance, and the second looks at oneness of guidance in its reality. Again Ma'ani 'I-akhbar quotes 'Ali (a.s.) as saying: "The straight path, in this world, is that which stops short of excesses and rises above shortcomings, and remains straight; and, in the next world, it is the path of the believers (leading them) to the Garden. "

The same book quotes the same Imam, explaining the verse: The path of those..., as follows: "Say: Guide us to the path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favors by strengthening them for Thy religion and Thy obedience - not (of those whom Thou favored) with wealth and health because such things are sometimes given even to the disbeliever or to the sinful." (Then he said:) "And those (bestowed with divine favor) are those about whom Allah says: And whoever obeys Allah and the Apostle, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the righteous ones, and excellent are these as companion (4:69).

ar-Rida (a.s.) narrates through his forefathers from Amiral al-mu'minin (a.s.) that he said: "I heard the Apostle of Allah saying: 'Allah, Mighty and Great is He, has said: "I have divide the Opening of the Book between Myself and My servant; so, half is for Me and the (other) half is for My servant. And My servant shall get what he asks for." When the servant says: In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, Allah, Great is His Glory, says: "My servant has started with My name, an it is incumbent upon Me that I should complete his works him and bless him in his affairs." And when he says: All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds, Allah, Great is His Glory says: "My servant has Praised Me, and he knows that the bounties that are with him are from Me, and that the misfortunate that have been averted from him were so averted by My grace; (O My angels!) I appoint You as My witnesses that I shall add for him the favors of the next world to those of this world, and will avert from him the calamities of the next world as I have averted from him the calamities of this world." And when he says, The Beneficent, the Merciful, Allah, Great is His Glory, says: "My servant bore witness for Me that I am the Beneficent, the MercifuI; I make you My witness that I will most surely augment his share in My mercy, and I will most certainly increase his portion My bounties." And when he says, The Master of the Day of Judgment, Allah, the High, says: "I make you My witness that, as he has acknowledged that I am the Master of the Day of Judgment I will most certainly make his reckoning easier (for him) on the Day of Reckoning, and I will most certainly accept his good deed and look over his sins." And when he says: Thee do we worship, Allah, Mighty and Great is He, says: "My servant is telling truth, He worships Me only. Be My witness that I will most surely give him for his worship a reward that will be the (object of) envy to all who opposed him when he worshipped Me." And when he says, and Thee do we beseech for help, Allah, the High, says: "From Me has My servant sought help, and in Me has he taken refuge. Be My witness that I will most certainly help him in his affairs, and will aid him in his difficulties, and will take his hand in his calamities." And when he says, Guide us to the eight path..., Allah, Mighty and Great is He, says: "This (part) is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he asks for; and I have answered (the prayer of) My servant, and have given him what he hopes for and have protected him from what he is afraid of." ' " ('Uyunu 'I-akhbar).

The author says: as-Saduq has narrated in 'Ilalu 'sh-shara'i', an almost similar tradition from ar-Rida (a.s.). The tradition explains the chapter of The Opening in the frame of the daily prayer. It further confirms the previously mentioned fact that this divine revelation has been sent, as though on behalf of the servants of Allah, to teach them the manners of servitude; to show them how to praise their Lord and how to declare their allegiance to Him. It is a chapter made especially for the purpose of worship; and no other chapter comes near to it in this respect. For example: -

1. The entire chapter is a divine speech, revealed on behalf of His servant, so that he may recite it when he stands to worship his Lord.

2. It is divided in two parts: one for Allah and the other for the servant.

3. It contains, in spite of its brevity, all the Qur'anic wisdom. The Qur'an is a vast treasure of fundamental truths, moral values and the most comprehensive shari'ah which consists of the rules of worship and mutual dealings, as well as the penal and civil codes. Further it is a valuable mine of divine promises and threats, stories of previous peoples as well as parables and moral lessons. But, in spite of this wide scope, all its teachings may be returned to four fundamental truths: the Oneness of God, the prophethood, the resurrection (with all its details) and the guidance of mankind to its bliss in this world as well as in the next. Needless to reiterate that this chapter contains all these basic realities in these very short, and at the same time very eloquent, sentence.

It will not be out of place to compare the beauty, glory and spirituality of this chapter, used in the Muslims' prayers, with the Lord's prayer, used by the Christians in their prayer:

Our Father which art in heaven Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

for ever. Amen. (Matthews 6:9 -13)

Ponder deeply on the teachings contained in these sentences, supposed to be of divine revelation, and see what manners of servitude does this prayer teach. First it tells them that their Father (i.e. God, in their terminology) is in heaven. Then it prays about the Father that His name be hallowed, His kingdom come and His will be done in earth as it is in heaven. The question is: Who will fulfill these wishes which look more like political slogans than spiritual invocation. Then it makes them ask for their daily bread, and for His forgiveness in lieu of their forgiveness - that He should waive His rights as they have waived theirs. But what right do they possess except that which they have been given by God Himself? Then they beseech Him not to lead them into temptation but to deliver them from evil. This is asking for impossible, because this world is the place appointed for our test and trial, so that we may acquire spiritual perfection. Would not salvation lose its meaning, if there was no test and trial?

And yet some orientalists have temerity to write: "Islam does not have any superiority over other religions, so far as spiritual knowledge is concerned, because all divine religions invite the men to the belief in one God, and ask them to purify themselves by good character and virtuous deeds. The religions excel one another only in deep-rootedness of their social fruits."

Other Traditions

It is narrated in Man la yahduruhu'l-faqih and at-Tafsir of al-'Ayyashi that as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "The straight path is Amiru'l-mu'minin (a.s.)."

as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "(The Straight path) is the path to the knowledge of Allah. And there are two paths, one in this world and the other in the next. As for the path in this world, it is the Imam whose obedience is obligatory; whosoever knows him in this world and follows his guidance, he shall proceed on the path which is the bridge over the hell in the next world; and whosoever does not know him in this world, his foot shall slip (over that bridge) in the next world, and he shall fall down into the fire of the hell." (Ma'ani 'l-akhbar)

The same book quotes as-Sajad (a.s-) as saying: "There no curtain between Allah and His proof, nor is there any screen for Allah against His proof. We are the gates of Allah, and we are the straight path, and we are the (treasure) chest of His Knowledge, and we are, the interpreters of His revelation, and we are the pillars of His Oneness, and we are the place of His secret."

Ibn Shahrashub has quoted from at-Tafsir of Waki' Ibn al-Jarrah from ath-Thawri from as-Suddi from Asbat and Mujahid from ibn 'Abbas that he said about the verse: Guide us to the straight path: "Say O group of the servants (of Allah): Lead us to the love of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his family members."

The author says: There are other traditions of the same meaning. Such traditions are based on the "flow" of the Qur'an, that is, application of the Qur'an wherever it is applicable. It should be noted that the term, "flow" - and it will often be used in this book - has been taken from the traditions of the Imams of Ahlu 'I-bayt (a.s.):

al-Fudayl ibn Yasar said: "I asked Abu Ja'far (a.s.) about the tradition, 'There is no verse in the Qur'an but it has an exterior and an interior, and there is no word in it but it has a boundary, and every boundary has a watching place.' (I asked him) what was the meaning of exterior and interior. The Imam said: 'Its exterior is its revelation and its interior is its interpretation; some of it has already passed (i.e. happened) and some of it has not come about yet; it runs along (or flows) as run the sun and the moon; when a thing of it comes (to its appointed place and time) it happens... (at-Tafsir, of al-'Ayyashi)

This theme is found in other traditions too. It is the convention of the Imams of Ahlu 'I-bayt (a.s.) that they apply a Qur'anic verse to all things it may be applied to. And this convention was correct and reasonable, because the Qur'an was revealed as a "guidance to the worlds"; it guides the mankind to correct belief, correct ethics and correct action. The matter of belief that it has explained is eternal truth; it is not limited to a certain time or certain place. The virtue or vice and the rules laid down for them are not confined to one person or one period - they are general and applicable to all relevant persons and times. The traditions explaining the background of revelation of a certain verse - when, why and about whom or what was it revealed - do not affect its general import. The rule is not restricted to that particular person or event; otherwise, it would cease to be valid in other similar conditions, and would die with the death of that person. The Qur'anic declaration is general. If it praises some persons, or condemns some others, it is because of the presence of good or evil characteristics in them. And wherever those good or evil characteristics are found, even in later generations, the verse will in all truth be applied to them. The Qur'an itself proves it, as Allah says: With it (i.e., the Qur'an) Allah guides him who follows His pleasure into the ways of safety... (5:16); ...and most surely it is a Mighty Book, falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind it (41:41 - 42); Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian (15:9).

There are numerous traditions, perhaps reaching to hundreds, which apply various verses of the Qur'an to the lmams or to their enemies. They are called the traditions of "flow." But now that the general principle has been explained, we shall not include those traditions in this Book - except where it becomes necessary for the explanation of a verse or for some reasoning or discussion.